Are you planning for the unexpected? Not only unexpected setbacks but unexpected opportunities, too!
Owners and leaders in machine shop management must consistently prepare for every imaginable kind of disruption: the good and the bad. Because when you effectively prepare for disruptions before they land in your lap, you can survive—and thrive—no matter what comes your way.
We don’t often think of needing to prepare for the positive, yet countless opportunities are lost every day because individuals and organizations don’t prepare for good news.
Mentally, financially, and organizationally: preparing for an opportunity is every bit as critical as preparing for a setback. If you aren’t good and ready, that opportunity can vanish as quickly as it appeared.
If an opportunity comes knocking tomorrow, will you be ready? What processes do you have in place that would support a big, unexpected, last-minute chance for your CNC machine business?
Train your team to spot unexpected opportunities
Machine shop management teams aren’t the only ones that need to think ahead; everyone in the business should adopt a big-picture mindset.
When our minds are turned toward the positive, we’re more likely to identify and embrace opportunities. And we’re more apt to seek solutions than to fall victim to overwhelm.
As an owner or manager, you must train your team to anticipate the good stuff. Get them talking about what’s possible—never mind if it’s probable! Ask them to dream, What if…?
What if we got this massive order?
What if we had double the shop space?
What if the shop across town closed and we inherited all their business overnight?
Dreaming is fun. It’s relatively risk-free. And it sets up your shop for maximum success when an opportunity arrives.
But of course, preparedness isn’t all fun and games…
Setbacks hit every CNC machine business from time to time, and while most of them are minor, others can be devastating—especially if you’re not ready for them. Back in my manufacturing days, my own company faced a tragedy that we were totally unprepared for.
The day after Thanksgiving, I flew to Singapore with a few machine shop management colleagues to solidify a last-minute deal. When we arrived, however, we were met with the news that one of our senior leaders had unexpectedly passed away.
We had four facilities that had to open up and run smoothly on Monday morning, and suddenly Mike—a great friend and leader—was gone. We had no choice but to turn right around and fly back to the US.
Severe setbacks like this one happen more often than we like to think. Nothing can ever fully prepare us for big losses, but we can plan for them as best we can.
Teach your team to watch for unexpected setbacks
Smart CNC machine businesses develop crisis plans that include a succession strategy for the owner, president, and other top executives. But what about the rest of the company? Do you know how you’ll respond if:
- Your best 5-axis operator gets a serious illness?
- Your only experienced estimator abruptly retires?
- Your delivery driver wins the lottery and moves to Bali overnight?
You can’t plan for every possible scenario, but you can outline a crisis response plan that accounts for every role—and we mean every role. If you think going a few weeks without a floor sweeper is no big deal…trust me, those chips pile up fast!
When your team is accustomed to thinking big-picture, they’ll be prepared to take action when a setback or a true tragedy occurs.
Get everyone involved in crisis planning
Most of us avoid talking about potential crises. Maybe we’re worried that we’ll inadvertently speak a crisis into existence by naming it. But the real crisis is the crisis of unpreparedness.
Here at NTMA, we view crisis planning as business as usual. We know we’d be fools not to expect the unexpected, so we don’t shy away from discussing difficult scenarios and how we’ll handle them.
The more proactive you are, the more prepared you’ll be.
Don’t stop with Plan A
Because even our best-laid plans don’t always pan out the way we imagined, it’s wise to consider different angles and alternative solutions.
Ensure multiple people on your machine shop management team are aware of the response strategies and where to find the resources necessary for carrying them out. Everyone should know where to locate the literal and figurative fire extinguishers and cut-off valves, the names and numbers, the priorities and possibilities.
Managing the Unexpected Means Managing Your Response
The spectrum of unexpected opportunities and setbacks is vast. Good and bad disruptions alike can present as tiny blips on your radar or as life-changing events. The difference is in how you respond.
My dear old dad, God rest his soul, used to tell me, “Roger, it’s not the mistake that costs you money. It’s the first decision you make after the mistake that costs you money.”
His point to me was, Don’t look at the situation; look at how you’re going to handle it.
As NTMA states in our mission, We provide opportunities that leverage [your] collective experiences and ingenuity to accelerate the capabilities of all members. One of those opportunities? Empowering you to plan for the unexpected—opportunities, setbacks, and everything in between.
Optimize your membership and use NTMA Connect to learn how other member shops are preparing for their futures!